by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
9:30 p.m. – China vs Philippines
The Philippine Azkals try to meet growing expectations and score an upset victory against China tonight in the AFC Asian Cup at the Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Getting the maximum three points remains easier said than done for the Azkals but they are eager to continue their gritty resolve that left a lasting impression in Monday’s 1-0 loss to regional powerhouse South Korea in Dubai.
Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson urged his team to keep the same mentality, particularly on the defensive front.
“If we think that it’s going to be easier against China than it was (against South Korea), that’s dangerous because if you do not defend well against them, you will not win,” said Eriksson, who had stints coaching club football in China.
It will be the first match between the Azkals against China since losing 8-1 in a friendly match in Guangzhou in 2017.
China is looking to score a second win after opening its campaign by surviving Kyrgyzstan, 2-1.
Attention will probably center on defender Alvaro Silva and goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard, who kept the score close against South Korea with their gritty resolve.
Midfielder Stephan Schrock and Patrick Reichelt and striker Javier Patino are aiming to create better scoring opportunities after the Azkals got less than 20 percent of possession the last time.
An intriguing scenario is whether veteran striker Phil Younghusband will be used as starter by Eriksson after being benched in the opener due to tactical reasons.
Eriksson opted to go on a more-defensive side with Patino as the lone man up front against South Korea.